Spokane Civic Theatre, based in Spokane, Washington, is a nationally acclaimed non-profit theater and similarly sheltered in the same area as Spokane Pest Control. The theatre, founded in 1947, is one of the country’s oldest community theaters. In recent years, the theatre has achieved a level of excellence that has resulted in numerous prizes. The purpose of the theatre is to “instill an enduring passion for live theatre in every member of the community.” Civic, as the surrounding community affectionately refers to it, provides a high standard for theatre in the Spokane area.
Spokane Civic Theatre owns both its building and land. Mortiz Kundig designed the building in the Brutalist style in 1967 for $250,000 and called it “one of my best projects.” The current structure houses Margot and Robert Ogden Main Stage Theatre and Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre. The Main Stage theater has 334 seats, while the Studio has 85. The Studio theatre’s seating may be adjusted to accommodate productions like 2011’s Metamorphoses. The Main Stage offers Sennheiser infrared aided listening devices and a Hearing Loop system (installed in 2014) for hearing-impaired patrons. Backstage has a scene shop, sewing workshop, prop storage, green room, offices, and dressing rooms. Children under 5, including newborns, may not act as a courtesy to other clients.
Spokane Civic Theatre is the country’s oldest community theater. Performances began in 1947 at the old Post Theater and then, in 1957, at the Riverside Playhouse. 1967: Current facility built. In 1972, a three-story addition was added to the theater’s backstage. This area housed set construction, rehearsals, the costume store, and theater maintenance offices. In 1979, the basement rehearsal room was converted into a studio theater. It’s currently a black box theatre with many experimental productions.
The Box & Hat Players, a musical theatrical troupe for all ages, originally performed in Civic. Spokane Children’s Theatre used Civic’s stage.
Spokane Civic Theatre has 500 volunteer actors, backstage staff, front of the house, house managers, and board members. They volunteer 90,000 hours annually. Repeat volunteers boost Civic’s efforts. Spokane residents have donated time and money to support the theatre’s goal.
Civic donates 600 Main Stage tickets for auctions and fundraisers. Civic hosts benefit concerts for non-profits, reaching 4,500-6,000 people. Many have never seen Civic or a live theatrical show.
Civic’s outreach effort began in September 2011. Civic’s Education Director teaches free Middle and High School classes. 7 schools and 750 students participated in Shakespeare in Schools in 2013-14. The Academy piloted Creative Dramatics in the fall of 2013; it received a great response and will become a comprehensive program, like Shakespeare in Schools.
In March 2014, Civic and the Spokane Symphony presented Les Misérables live in the Martin Woldson Theatre at the Fox. The three community groups’ fundraiser surpassed expectations.